Delaware confirms first human West Nile case

The Delaware Div. of Public Health confirmed the state’s first human West Nile virus case, this week.

Currently hospitalized, DPH epidemiologists say the 34-year-old man is a Wilmington resident, but likely contracted West Nile out of state. This is Delaware’s only human case this year; the state only had one case last year too.

Mosquitoes transmit West Nile virus when they bite, generally from spring to fall. Nearly 80 percent of people infected with the virus do not become ill. The CDC estimates only 20 percent of those infected will develop West Nile fever, with mild symptoms including fever, headache, body aches, a skin rash on the chest or back and swollen lymph glands. Many cases likely go unreported.

“Delawareans must continue to be vigilant in protecting themselves from mosquito bites,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, Delaware Public Health Director. “Delaware may very well see cases that are contracted inside the state… When in doubt, medical providers should test for the disease.”

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DPH warns one in 150 develop severe infection (West Nile encephalitis or meningitis) with headache, high fever, stiff neck, and/or tremors and muscle weakness. Symptoms may progress to stupor, disorientation, coma, convulsions, paralysis and possibly death.

The elderly and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk.

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